Suspects fleeing police normally try to drive as fast as possible to augment their chances of getting away. One California man tried the opposite approach: He led police on what some law enforcement officials call the longest chase they have ever heard of or experienced. The driver was arrested, and no one was hurt.
The ordeal started at about 7:00 p.m. on Feb. 2 with a fairly typical traffic stop, according to local news channel NBC4. Officers saw the driver either reaching for an unspecified item or putting one away, and he sped off shortly after. Los Angeles is the world's police pursuit capital, and this chase started out like most others: the fugitive drove erratically, sometimes on the wrong side of the road, and occasionally at speeds of over 90 mph.
He blew through several red lights in a Chevrolet Malibu as officers — some driving Ford Crown Victoria patrol cars — followed him on a quick-paced tour of the Los Angeles area. He then took a more scenic approach.
Traveling on the 110 freeway, the suspect reduced his speed to about 35 mph and sometimes dropped to under 10 mph. You don't need to watch the news to imagine the phenomenal mess that the chase plunged Los Angeles' already chaotic traffic into. NBC4 reported miles of gridlock, and some of the officers chasing the suspect had to leave the convoy for a few minutes to fill up their gas tanks. The news outlet's chopper had to land and refuel, too.
Officers blew out the Malibu's tires, and the 6-hour, 40-mile chase ended when the sedan crawled to a stop after its driver-side front wheel broke off, leaving behind a trail of sparks. The driver was arrested on suspicion of felony evading, NBC4 reported, and officers clarified that he had a pair of outstanding warrants for burglary.
Stopping a suspect is not as easy as Hollywood would lead you to believe.
"Our policy generally prohibits us from conducting a pursuit intervention technique (PIT) maneuver on somebody we believe is armed, because it puts us at a disadvantage when we flip that car around. Now the suspect is face-to-face with us, and it is pretty unsafe," explained Los Angeles Police Department sergeant Juan Garcia.
Officers noted they did not find a weapon when they searched the car, though they say the suspect may have thrown one out of the window during the chase. What's clear is that he had a full tank of gas. Running on empty might not have stopped him, though; we've seen a suspect stop for gas during a pursuit in Los Angeles before.